This image is of Peggy (R), then a 19 year-old SNCC member, next to future civil rights icon, Dr. Dorothy Cotton (L), after a 1962 church burning in Georgia—the state that Peggy's great-great grandparents, William & Ellen Craft, famously escaped from slavery nearly 115 years earlier...
Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely
Dr. Dorothy Cotton
In light of the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark case on the sovereignty of treaties with First Nation tribes as it relates to Oklahoma, I was moved to write the following poem:
FROM LANGSTON HUGHES TO THE FIRST NATIONS
They, too, sing America.
Muskogee (Creek), Seminole, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee!
Let us say their names… out loud.
Hear the music in these eponyms; give them their righteous recognition.
This is our essential lament,
Has been since our very beginning.
A drum-beat never silenced.
They never left the table.
Refused to disappear…to be the disappeared.
Would not be chased or driven into oblivion.
And so they fled…
bided their time.
Were relegated to the outside…
rounded up for genocide,
Invoked a tribal patience beyond the realm of colonialist time.
Oh, see how inspiring is the arc of their history…
A people all the colors of the earth.
A First People who wore the blankets of uncertainty,
with such dignity
for an eternity…
teetering on the brink of extinction
enduring legal circumvention
© 2020 Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely. All rights reserved.
Who refused to be white-washed, discounted, erased,
set apart, considered irrelevant
Were stamped Invalid in the great galloping Western psyche.
But never-the-less they persisted,
Insisted on their ancient sovereignty
In their steady stance
The Great Pow Wow is come full circle
And the scene has shifted
because they persisted.
And a ruling came down
Gave some uplift,
some float of hope:
One map redrawn.
For a people knew who they were
all this time
— Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely